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Sunday, December 13, 2009

CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: SAT. DEC. 12, 2009






















CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: SAT. DEC. 12, 2009: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: POPE: ANGELUS: SECRET JOY OF BLESSING THE BAMBINELLI-
AMERICA: CUBA: LIBERATION MOVEMENT CALLS RETURN TO SOVEREIGNTY-
EUROPE: IRELAND: MAJOR REORGANIZATION IN THE CHURCH EXPECTED -
ASIA: PAKISTAN: CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN FOR THE POOR-
AFRICA: KENYA: PHOTO EXHIBITION TO PROMOTE PEACE-

AUSTRALIA: MOTORCYCLISTS MAKE DONATIONS TO POOR CHILDREN-




VATICAN: POPE: ANGELUS: SECRET JOY OF BLESSING THE BAMBINELLI




CNA reports that saying he shared the “secret joy” of his audience, Pope Benedict dedicated his Angelus address to the blessing of the "Bambinelli," the baby Jesus figurines to be used in family, school and parish Nativity scenes all over Rome. The central message of the liturgy on the Third Sunday of Advent was the apostle Paul´s invitation to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice the Lord is near!"Pope Benedict XVI spoke on a cool, rain-sprinkled afternoon in Rome."The Mother Church," he explained before the Angelus, "while she accompanies us towards the holy feast of Christmas, helps us rediscover the meaning and the delight of Christian joy, so different from that of the world."The Pope noted that so many families, teachers and catechists come to St. Peter's Square to have their baby Jesus figurines blessed. He remarked that he is filled with great joy at their presence and interest in keeping alive the tradition. He also said it is necessary to “try to live in the everyday reality of what Christ's Nativity represents, which is the love of Christ, his humility and his poverty.The blessing of the Bambinelli, he added, “reminds us that the Nativity is a school of life, where we can learn the secret of true joy. This doesn't consist of having many things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift to others and in loving ourselves."Pope Benedict alluded to the Holy Family, who didn't seem to be “a very fortunate family” but were still "filled with intimate joy because they loved and helped each other and most have all they were sure that their story is the work of God, Who is made present in little Jesus."The shepherds would have also been joyful in seeing the Lord despite their meager conditions, the Pontiff explained, because in the infant Jesus they would have recognized, with the help of their faith, "the sign of God's promise coming true for all men who love Him."True joy, he said, consists in its feeling that our personal and communal existence is fulfilled by “a great mystery, the mystery of the love of God.""To rejoice we need not only things, but also love and truth, we need a God that is near, that warms our heart and responds to our profound expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary.""Thus," concluded the Holy Father, "that 'Bambinello' that we put in the stable or the cave is the center of everything, the heart of the world."After the Angelus, the Pope invited the faithful and pilgrims to pray with him for the four priests killed in Africa last week, so that the Lord “may take them into His House, console those that cry for their loss and bring, with His coming, reconciliation and peace."(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=18040





AMERICA


CUBA: LIBERATION MOVEMENT CALLS FOR RETURN TO SOVEREIGNTY





CNA reports that the Christian Liberation Movement this week urged Cuba's National Assembly to return sovereignty to the people because Cubans have fought for the “well-being of all, not for the power of only a few.”
“If lawmakers are not willing to fulfill this duty immediately, they should hold the referendum proposed by the Varela Project so that the people can vote on the beginning of a new age of liberty with rights for all, the liberation movement said in a statement.
The Varela Project seeks peaceful democratic change in Cuba
The movement added that Cubans lack fundamental rights that are denied by the Communist government. “They deny freedom in the name of justice, but power is monopolized by a small group that has all of the privileges while the poor majority continues to be poor and has no voice to express themselves.”
The poor also do not have opportunities “to improve their lives.”
For this reason, the movement said, it is the duty of the National Assembly to give Cubans the possibility to freely associate, to establish their residence in any province, to be able to leave and re-enter the country without asking permission, to generate their own sources of work, to elect their leaders and to express themselves freely without fear of incarceration.”
“History confirms that when power is the goal of those who govern, they are not at the service of the people, but rather they put the people at the service of their own power. They call this a revolution, which they want us to accept unconditionally, although many Cubans have dreamed and fought for the well-being of all and not for the permanent power of a few,” the movement said.
“Rights are not negotiable,” the movement said, and “Cubans have a right to have rights because we are human beings and God created us freed.”
The CLM said Cubans who want change must demand it without fear. “We Cubans can and should be the protagonists of our history. Let us unite in hope because we can peacefully achieve these changes that will mean freedom, rights and reconciliation.”(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=18026








EUROPE


IRELAND: MAJOR REORGANIZATION WITHIN THE CHURCH EXPECTED





CNA reports that Irish Catholics can expect "major reorganization" within the Church following the meeting between the Pope and Irish prelates on Friday regarding child sexual abuses by clergy in the Archdiocese of Dublin, according to an article published in the Irish Times. It is not yet known how far reaching these structural changes will be.Archbishop of Armagh Sean Cardinal Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attended a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and other leaders from Vatican dicasteries to voice concerns and discuss solutions following the Nov. 26 release of a report detailing the sexual abuses of priests in the archdiocese.Cardinal Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, told The Irish Times it was a "good meeting" with the Pope and expressed his regret to "be back here again to discuss the painful question of child sexual abuse."In a statement released Friday afternoon after the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his intention to address the Irish faithful in a pastoral letter that will "clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation." There was no indication of when that Papal correspondence can be expected, but with the sense of urgency surrounding the issue within the Irish Church it will likely be sometime soon.Archbishop Martin told the Times that the pastoral letter could include measures for "a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland."He also told the News Daily on Friday, "I really think we need a renewal." Efforts in that direction, he added, will include "working very hard on the question of child protection," a renewal of parish life and the involvement of more lay people within the organization of the Irish church.There will also be some changes within the Catholic hierarchy. The resignation of the Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray is expected as a result of his involvement in covering up the abuses. It is unclear if any other bishops will be stepping down at this time. According to the Times, Archbishop Martin has written to Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dublin Dermot O'Mahony, asking him not to carry out confirmations in the coming year and not to be part of the diocesan administration “in any way."The archbishop also asked Bishop O’Mahony to distance himself from the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, which takes disabled children to Lourdes each year at Easter. The bishop resigned on Dec. 6.More specific details of how the archdiocese will address Irish Catholics in the coming days are not yet known, but members of the communications corps from the Irish Catholic bishops' conference are "on-call" awaiting instructions from the prelates upon their return from Rome, a communications officer with the bishops' conference told CNA. The officer said that she would not expect a statement from the archdiocese until Monday.(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=18039








ASIA


PAKISTAN: CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN FOR THE POOR





UCAN reports that Catholics and Protestants have mounted a joint Christmas campaign, at a church they share, to help needy widows.

Catholic youths receiving a donation forwidows at the Calvary Church hall in Karachi
Since the beginning of Advent, Catholic and Protestant youths have been manning a collection point they set up at Calvary Church in Pahar Ganj, a Christian neighborhood in North Nazimabad Town, Karachi.
Various Christian denominations share Calvary Church in this southern metropolis. The collected donations of food and clothing are being stored in a hall they also use for conventions.
Blessed Christian Foundation (BCF), a coalition of 25 Churches, launched the ecumenical donation drive on Dec. 4. Advent, the four-week preparatory period for Christmas in the Church's liturgical calendar, began this year on Nov. 29.
"We have collected 9,000 rupees (US$108) and several items of clothing so far. Pamphlets for donations have also been distributed among hundreds of Christian families," Daniel Murad told UCA News. The Catholic youth said the donations will be given to 70 widows on Dec. 20.
BCF has been helping Christian widows and their children since it was founded in 1993.
However it is not the only Christian organization working to help widows. The pastoral team of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, northeastern Pakistan, is also continuing an annual tradition of distributing gift hampers of basic commodities to widows around Christmas.
Every Sunday in Advent, Sister Teresa Yaqoob stands with lottery tickets at the entrance of Holy Cross Catholic Church in a Christian community in Lahore. "It's not about winning prizes, you are supporting those in need," she tells parishioners. Each ticket costs 10 rupees.
The Franciscan Tertiary Sister of Lahore has so far sold 2,000 rupees' worth of tickets. "Several nuns, catechists and laypeople are also selling lottery tickets. Food hampers will be bought from what has been raised and given to widows on Dec. 20 after a small Christmas fun fair at the cathedral," she told UCA News.
Meanwhile, younger members of St. Joseph's Church in Hyderabad are collecting food hampers and bottles of mineral water for tribal people in the Thar Desert, along Pakistan's southeastern border with India.
Franciscan Father Samson Shukardin said he has had young people raising funds door-to-door since his last visit to Nagarparkar, Sindh province, in late October.
"During winter nights, the temperature drops to less than 9 degrees Celsius in the Thar Desert. ... Water and warm clothing are the best possible gifts for them," he told UCA News.
(source: http://www.ucanews.com/2009/12/11/christians-provide-christmas-cheer-for-poor/











AFRICA


KENYA: PHOTO EXHIBITION TO PROMOTE PEACE





CISA reports a round the-clock national photo exhibition initiative on Kenya’s 2007 -2008 post-election violence has been launched in Nairobi.
The exhibition was launched on Monday December 7th by Dr Ozonnia Ojielo, UN-DP Deputy Country Director on behalf of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who brokered peace negotiations in that country.
The photo exhibition titled, Picha Mtaani by award winning photographer Boniface Mwangi aims to provide a platform for national reflection and promote peaceful co-existence among communities in Kenya’s seven most election conflict affected provinces to foster healing and reconciliation.The photo exhibition also aims to challenge target communities to play their role in the reconciliation and reconstruction process following the 2007 post-election violence.
During the launch Dr Ojielo said, “This initiative by Picha Mtaani is one of the steps that will keep communities on the path towards improved peace and social cohesion for the future as a necessary prerequisite for Kenya’s social and economic development and integration.”
Ojielo also said that “it is critical that we look to the future, identifying the potential contributors of tomorrow and working with them today to achieve the goal of enhanced peace and security in this nation., it is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to support this youth-led initiative that has a focus on rebuilding peace within affected communities and in particular targeting youth.”
He mentioned that youth peace clubs in the country will be mentored by district peace communities and supported by national youth organizations to engage in a number of activities to promote peace within communities.
The US ambassador to Kenya Michael Renneberger applauded the new initiative and affirmed US’ commitment to ensure that Kenya attains lasting peace in the coming years.
According to Mwangi who is the director of the exhibition, The Picha Mtaani initiative will be soon rolled out to other towns in the country and youth are invited to volunteer.The photo exhibition will be held for three days at the “Jobless Corner” outside The Hilton, Moi Avenue, Nairobi. The UN-funded initiative focuses on reconciliation through photographic exhibitions and debate. (SOURCE: http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4294





AUSTRALIA


MOTORCYCLISTS MAKE DONATIONS TO POOR CHILDREN








Cath News reports that more than 8000 motorcycle riders travelled from Glenelg to Hahndorf Oval in South Australia to make Christmas present donations to St Vincent de Paul, to be distributed to disadvantaged children, The Advertiser reports.
About $250,000 worth of toys were collected at this year's 31st annual Motorcycle Riders Association SA Toy Run, with about 20,000 people gathering at Hahndorf.
Motorcycle Riders Association SA president Phil McClelland said it was always a buzz to see the colour and character of the event.
"It is one of the first of its kind in Australia and it is the largest continual annual event of its kind in the southern hemisphere," he said. "This is a celebration of motorcycling and, through St Vincent de Paul, the winners are the needy children of South Australia."

Mr McClelland said he was pleased to shine a positive light on motorcyclists.
"It's great to have tradition and this event just keeps growing and growing every year," he reportedly said. (source: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=18303










TODAY'S SAINT




Our Lady of Guadalupe
Feast: December 12
Information:
Feast Day:
December 12
More on Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, moved with pity for the Aztec people who, living in the darkness of idolatry, offered to their idols multitudes of human victims, deigned to take into her own hands the evangelization of these Indians of Central America who were also her children. One of the Aztec gods, originally considered the god of fertility, had transformed himself over time into a ferocious god. A symbol of the sun, this god was in continuous battle with the moon and the stars and was believed to need human blood to restore his strength; if he died, life would be extinguished. Ever new victims, to be offered to him in perpetual sacrifice, therefore seemed essential.
An eagle on a cactus
Aztec priests had prophesied that their nomadic people would settle in the place where an eagle would be seen perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent. This eagle appears on the Mexican flag today. Having arrived on a swampy island, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs saw the foretold sign: an eagle, perched on a cactus, was devouring a serpent. This was in 1369. There they founded their town Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City. The town expanded to become a city on pilings, with many gardens abounding in flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The organization of the Aztec kingdom was very structured and hierarchical. The knowledge of their mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, architects, doctors, artists, and artisans was excellent for that time. But the laws of the physical world remained scarcely known. Tenochtitlan drew its power and wealth primarily from war. The conquered cities had to pay a tribute of various foodstuffs and men for war and sacrifices. The Aztecs' human sacrifices and cannibalism are almost unequaled throughout the course of history.
In 1474, a child was born who was given the name Cuauhtlatoazin ("speaking eagle"). After his father's death, the child was taken in by his uncle. From the age of three, he was taught, as were all young Aztecs, to join in domestic tasks and to behave in a dignified manner. At school, he learned singing, dancing, and especially the worship of many gods. The priests had a very strong influence over the population, whom they kept in a submission bordering on terror. Cuauhtlatoazin was thirteen years old when the great temple at Tenochtitlan was consecrated. Over the course of four days, the priests sacrificed 80,000 human victims to their god. After his military service, Cuauhtlatoazin married a young woman of his social status. Together they led a modest life as farmers.
In 1519, the Spaniard Cortez disembarked in Mexico, leading 500 soldiers. He conquered the country for Spain, yet was not lacking in zeal for the evangelization of the Aztecs. In 1524 he obtained the arrival of twelve Franciscans to Mexico. These missionaries quickly integrated into the population. Their goodness contrasted with the harshness of the Aztec priests, as well as that of some conquistadors. They began to build churches. However, the Indians were reluctant to accept Baptism, primarily because it would require them to abandon polygamy.
Cuauhtlatoazin and his wife were among the first to receive Baptism, under the respective names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, 14 km from Mexico City, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had become a Christian as well. On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left very early in the morning to attend the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franciscan fathers' church, close to Mexico City. He walked past Tepeyac Hill. Suddenly, he heard a gentle and resounding song that seemed to come from a great multitude of birds. Raising his eyes to the top of the hill, he saw a white and radiant cloud. He looked around him and wondered if he was dreaming. All of a sudden, the song stopped and a woman's voice, gentle and graceful, called him: "Juanito, Juan Dieguito!" He quickly climbed the hill and found himself in the presence of a very beautiful young woman whose garments shone like the sun.
"A church where I will show my love"
Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here."
Juan Diego went straight to the bishop. Bishop Zumárraga, a Franciscan, the first bishop of Mexico, was a pious man and full of zeal, who had a heart overflowing with kindness towards the Indians. He heard the poor man attentively, but fearing an illusion, did not put much faith in his story. Towards evening, Juan Diego started on his way home. At the top of Tepeyac Hill, he had the pleasant surprise of meeting the Apparition again. He told her about his mission, then added, "I beg you to entrust your message to someone more known and respected so that he will believe it. I am only a simple Indian whom you have sent as a messenger to an important person. Therefore, he didn't believe me, and I do not want to greatly disappoint you."—"My dearest son, "replied the Lady, "you must understand that there are many more noble men to whom I could have entrusted my message and yet, it is because of you that my plan will succeed. Return to the bishop tomorrow... Tell him that it is I myself, the Blessed Virgin MARY, Mother of God, who am sending you."
On Sunday morning after the Mass, Juan Diego went to the bishop's house. The prelate asked him many questions, then asked for a tangible sign of the truth of the apparition. When Juan Diego went home, the bishop had him discreetly followed by two servants. At Tepeyac Bridge, Juan Diego disappeared from their sight, and despite all their searches on the hill and in the surrounding area, they could not find him again. Furious, they declared to the bishop that Juan Diego was an impostor who must absolutely not be believed. During this time, Juan Diego told the beautiful Lady, who was waiting for him on the hill, about his most recent meeting with the bishop. "Come back tomorrow morning to seek the sign he is asking for," replied the Apparition.
Roses, in the middle of winter!
Returning home, the Indian found his uncle ill, and the next day, he had to stay at his bedside to take care of him. As the illness got worse, the uncle asked his nephew to go look for a priest. At dawn on Tuesday, December 12, Juan Diego started on the road to the city. Approaching Tepeyac Hill, he thought it best to make a detour so as not to meet the Lady. But suddenly, he perceived her coming to meet him. Embarrassed, he explained his situation and promised to come back when he had found a priest to administer last rites to his uncle. "My dear little one," replied the Apparition, "do not be distressed about your uncle's illness, because he will not die from it. I assure you that he will get well... Go to the top of the hill, pick the flowers that you will see there, and bring them to me." When he had arrived at the top of the hill, the Indian was stunned to find a great number of flowers in bloom, Castillian roses that gave off a very sweet fragrance. Indeed, in the winter, the cold allows nothing to survive, and besides, the place was too dry for flowers to grow there. Juan Diego gathered the roses, enfolded them in his cloak, or tilma, then went back down the hill. "My dear son," said the Lady, "these flowers are the sign that you are to give the bishop... This will get him to build the church that I have asked of him."
Juan Diego ran to the bishop. When he arrived, the servants made him wait for hours. Amazed at his patience, and intrigued by what he was carrying in his tilma, they finally informed the bishop, who, although with several people, had him shown in immediately. The Indian related his adventure, unfolded his tilma, and let the flowers, which were still shining with dew, scatter to the floor. With tears in his eyes, Bishop Zumárraga fell to his knees, admiring the roses from his country. All of a sudden, he perceived, on the tilma, the portrait of Our Lady. MARY's image was there, as though printed on the cloak, very beautiful and full of gentleness. The bishop's doubts gave way to a sure faith and a hope filled with wonder. He took the tilma and the roses, and placed them respectfully in his private oratory. The next day he went with Juan Diego to the hill where the apparitions had taken place. After having examined the sites, he let the seer return to his uncle's house. Juan Bernardino had been completely cured. His cure had taken place at the very hour when Our Lady appeared to his nephew. He told him, "I have also seen her. She even came here and talked to me. She wants a church to be built on Tepeyac Hill and wants her portrait to be called 'Saint MARY of Guadalupe.' But she didn't explain to me why." The name "Guadalupe" is well known by the Spanish, because in their country there is a very old sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The news of the miracle spread quickly. In a short time, Juan Diego became well-known. "I will spread your fame," MARY had told him, but the Indian remained as humble as ever. To make it easier to meditate on the Image, Bishop Zumárraga had the tilma transported to his cathedral. Then work was begun on the construction of a small church and a hermitage for Juan Diego on the hill of apparitions. The next December 25, the bishop consecrated his cathedral to the Most Blessed Virgin, to thank her for the remarkable favors with which she had blessed his diocese. Then, in a magnificent procession, the miraculous Image was carried to the sanctuary that had just been completed on Tepeyac Hill. To express their joy, the Indians shot arrows. One of them, shot carelessly, went through the throat of a participant in the procession, who fell to the ground, fatally wounded. A great silence fell and intense supplication rose to the Mother of God. Suddenly the wounded man, who had been placed at the foot of the miraculous Image, collected himself and got up, full of vigor. The crowd's enthusiasm was at its peak.
Millions of Indians become Christian
Juan Diego moved into his little hermitage, seeing to the maintenance and cleaning of the site. His life remained simple—he carefully farmed a field close to the sanctuary that had been placed at his disposal. He received pilgrims in ever larger numbers, and enjoyed talking about the Blessed Virgin and untiringly relating the details of the apparitions. He was entrusted with all kinds of prayer intentions. He listened, sympathized, and comforted. A good amount of his free time was spent in contemplation before the image of his Lady. He made rapid progress in the ways of holiness. Day after day, he fulfilled his duty as a witness up until his death on December 9, 1548, seventeen years after the first apparition.
When the Indians had learned the news of Our Lady's apparitions, an enthusiasm and joy such as had never been seen before spread among them. Renouncing their idols, superstitions, human sacrifices, and polygamy, many asked to be baptized. Nine years after the apparitions, nine million Indians had converted to the Christian faith—nearly 3,000 a day! The details of the Image of MARY moved the Indians deeply—this woman is greater than the sun-god since she appears standing before the sun. She surpasses the moon god since she keeps the moon under her feet. She is no longer of this world since she is surrounded by clouds and is held above the world by an angel. Her folded hands show her in prayer, which means that there is Someone greater than she...
Even in our time, the mystery of this miraculous Image remains. The tilma, a large apron woven by hand from cactus fibers, bears the holy Image, which is 1.43 meters tall. The Virgin's face is perfectly oval and is a gray color verging on pink. Her eyes have a profound expression of purity and gentleness. The mouth seems to smile. The very beautiful face, similar to that of a mestizo Indian, is framed by a black head of hair that, up close, is comprised of silky locks. She is clad in a full tunic, of a pinkish red hue that no one has ever been able to reproduce, and that goes to her feet. Her bluish-green mantle is edged with gold braid and studded with stars. A sun of various shades forms a magnificent background, with golden rays shining out.
The fact that the tilma has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to this day is inexplicable. After more than four centuries, this fabric of mediocre quality retains the same freshness and the same lively color as when it was new. By comparison, a copy of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe painted in the 18th century with great care, and preserved under the same climatic conditions as Juan Diego's, had completely deteriorated in a few years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a painful period of revolutions in Mexico, a load of dynamite was put by unbelievers at the foot of the Image, in a vase of flowers. The explosion destroyed the marble steps on the main altar, the candelabras, all the flower-holders. The marble altarpiece was broken into pieces, the brass Christ on the tabernacle was split in two. The windows in most of the houses near the basilica were broken, but the pane of glass that was protecting the Image was not even cracked. The Image remained intact.
The most moving experience of my life
In 1936, an examination conducted on two fibers from the tilma, one red and the other yellow, led to an astounding finding—the fibers contained no known coloring agent. Ophthalmology and optics confirm the inexplicable nature of the Image—it seems to be a slide projected onto the fabric. Closer analysis shows that there is no trace of drawing or sketching under the color, even though perfectly recognizable retouches were done on the original, retouches which moreover have deteriorated with time. In addition, the background never received any primer, which seems inexplicable if it is truly a painting, for even on the finest fabric, a coat is always applied, if only to prevent the fabric from absorbing the painting and the threads from breaking the surface. No brush strokes can be detected. After an infrared analysis conducted on May 7, 1979, a professor from NASA wrote, "There is no way to explain the quality of the pigments used for the pink dress, the blue veil, the face and the hands, or the permanence of the colors, or the vividness of the colors after several centuries, during which they ordinarily should have deteriorated... Studying this Image has been the most moving experience of my life."
Astronomers have observed that all the constellations present in the heavens at the moment Juan Diego opened his tilma before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, 1531, are in their proper place on MARY's mantle. It has also been found that by imposing a topographical map of central Mexico on the Virgin's dress, the mountains, rivers and principal lakes coincide with the decoration on this dress.
Ophthalmological tests have found that MARY's eye is a human eye that appears to be living, and includes the retina, in which is reflected the image of a man with outstretched hands—Juan Diego. The image in the eye conforms to the known laws of optics, particularly to that which states that a well-lighted object can be reflected three times in an eye (Purkinje-Samson's law). A later study allowed researchers to discover in the eye, in addition to the seer, Bishop Zumárraga and several other people present when the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma. And the normal microscopic network of veins in the eyelids and the cornea of the Virgin's eyes is completely recognizable. No human painter would have been able to reproduce such details.
Three months pregnant
Gynecological measurements have determined that the Virgin in the Image has the physical dimensions of a woman who is three months pregnant. Under the belt that holds the dress in place, at the very location of the embryo, a flower with four petals stands out—the Solar Flower, the most familiar of Aztec hieroglyphs, and which symbolized for them divinity, the center of the earth, heaven, time, and space. On the Virgin's neck hangs a brooch, the center of which is decorated with a little cross, recalling the death of Christ on the Cross for the salvation of all mankind. Many other details of the Image of MARY form an extraordinary document for our age, which is able to observe them thanks to modern technology. Thus science, which has often been a pretext for unbelief, helps us today to give prominence to signs that had remained unknown for centuries and that science is unable to explain.
The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe bears a message of evangelization: the Basilica of Mexico is a center "from which flows a river of the light of the Gospel of Christ, spreading throughout the earth through the merciful Image of MARY" (John Paul II, December 12, 1981 ). In addition, through her intervention on behalf of the Aztec people, the Virgin played a role in saving innumerable human lives, and her pregnancy can be interpreted as a special appeal on behalf of unborn children and the defense of human life. This appeal has a burning relevance in our time, when threats against the lives of individuals and peoples, especially lives that are weak and defenseless, are widespread and becoming more serious. The Second Vatican Council forcefully deplored crimes against human life: "All offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia... all these and the like are criminal: they poison civilization ; and they debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the Creator" ( Gaudium et Spes, 27). Faced with these plagues, which are expanding as a result of scientific progress and technology, and which benefit from wide social consensus as well as legal recognition, let us call upon MARY with confidence. She is an "incomparable model of how life should be welcomed and cared for... Showing us her Son, she assures us that in Him the forces of death have already been defeated" (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, March 25, 1995, nos. 102, 105). "Death and life are locked in an incredible battle; the Author of life, having died, lives and reigns" (Easter Sequence).
Let us ask Saint Juan Diego, canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002, to inspire us with a true devotion to our Mother of Heaven, for "MARY's compassion extends to all those who appeal to her, even when this appeal is nothing more than a simple 'Hail, MARY'" (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori ). Especially if we have fallen into serious sin, she who is Mother of Mercy will obtain for us the Mercy of God. (SOURCE; http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/O/ourladyofguadalupe.asp



TODAY'S GOSPEL



Luke 3: 10 - 18
10
And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?"
11
And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
12
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
13
And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you."
14
Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
15
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
16
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
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His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
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So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.
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